OPINION: Just Say No

Did you ever have to say “no”?

Persistent children … unwanted advances … unsolicited sales calls.

Just like you, our lawmakers must say “no” all the time.

Look no further than our local champion of the budget. Kudos to Sen. Kurt Schaefer, who put his foot down: no sentimental favoritism. This year he filed a bill that curtly prohibits any member of the University of Missouri Board of Curators from voting to hire any person who appointed that curator to the board. “Any such vote taken by a curator will be null and void. Any curator who violates this prohibition will immediately forfeit his or her curator position.”

The only person who appoints a University of Missouri curator is a Missouri governor.

It makes you wonder: Why wasn’t such a prohibition already in place? The old state patronage system is long gone — or so we thought.

Our confidence is shaken. How many more loopholes exist for people to exploit? As we peek into the first bills filed for this legislative session, our confidence plummets:

One lawmaker wants to criminalize false impersonation. That includes “displaying a badge or other credential with the purpose to induce somebody to submit to fake official authority or pretended official acts.” Seriously? That isn’t a crime already?

It gets weirder.

Apparently, until we pass a new law, you can abuse your bus driver. Thank God for the Stop Beating Your Bus Driver Act, which says that if you attempt to kill or injure an employee of a mass transit system while in the scope of his or her duties, you can be charged with the crime of assault of an employee of a mass transit system in the first degree. Good thing legislators will take care of this glaring oversight.
Outta My Way!
In the past, when citizens found out there was a real problem in our laws, we could file a petition. But that option is about to get tougher.

One lawmaker wants to make it harder for you to petition your government. Right now, you can put a question on the ballot if you get signatures from 8 percent of legal voters in two-thirds of the state’s congressional districts. That’s about 125,000 valid signatures. The new Stay Outta My Way, Peon, I’m a Legislator and I Know What’s Good for You law will raise the bar, and require signatures from 15 percent of voters, or nearly 240,000 signatures.
Get Off My Back
We’re on a roll here, and we’ve got government on the run.

The Get Government Off My Back Act, Part II will extend tax relief to certain small businesses for an additional five years. After all, that money belongs to you — schools and highways be damned.

Legislators are so confident that state highways are self-sustaining, they’ve launched one bill that willexempt taxes on motorboat fuel. It makes sense, when you consider that yacht owners are sinking in poverty.
Chinese Take-Out
Away from all those fights, there’s a storm brewing on the prairie. Foreigners are buying our farmland.

Currently, an alien or foreign business can buy farms in Missouri if the total aggregate ownership does not exceed 1 percent of the total aggregate agricultural acreage in this state. Any such sale must be approved by the state director of agriculture. Well, the director won’t need to bother approving, if HB29 hits pay dirt. Let’s see, if 100 foreign businesses each bought 1 percent of Missouri farmland …

While we’re on the farm …

The Stop Illegal Aliens from Working in Chinese CAFOs Act will require all Missouri employers to enroll and actively participate in a federal work authorization program. Yes, there will be stricter penalties for employing illegal aliens. So finally, your children can get that dream job slaughtering hogs and chickens.

Some rural Missourians, mistrustful of government attempts at mind-control, want to stop fluoridation of water. Perhaps a faction of country-dwellers reason that “all our teeth have meth rot anyway.” Still, one lawmaker wants public water systems to notify the state at least 90 days prior to any vote to cease the fluoridation of their water.

Don’t worry. There’s good news in the fight against meth. One proposal would establish the Controlled Substances Contaminated Property Cleanup Act, so if a meth lab blows up your rental property, there are procedures to clean up the hazardous waste.

Speaking of hazardous waste, one senator wants to stop nuisance actions against property used for crop or animal production “if the owner of the property is in good faith compliance with any government order or permit.” Poop spills and fish kills? Hey, it was an accident.

Taking a less controversial stand, that same senator wants to change the livestock term “buffalo” to “bison.”

It’s about time.

Here’s some good news: That semi-new palace you’ve been eying will cost less if that new house is a used mobile home, and the bill passes to exempt sales taxes on used trailers.

Seriously, there are good bills in the hopper.

One proposal will designate July 3 of each year as “Organ Donor Recognition Day.” The timing is perfect, coming right before firecracker day.

And Mizzou students young and old will warm to the proposed Campus Free Expression Act to protect free expression on college campuses. Does that cover streaking?

But in a Jekyll and Hyde turn, that same senator is sponsoring the I Can’t Wait to Throw You Out bill, wresting most impeachment trials away from the Missouri Supreme Court. Instead, this lawmaker wants to conduct the trials in the Missouri Senate, which knows more about impeachment than any Supreme Court.

The long overdue Password Privacy Protection Act will stop your boss from making you disclose your personal online user name and password.

Careless smokers beware: If you thought smoking was getting expensive, one bill automatically doubles the fine for littering with cigarettes and cigars. So if you get caught speeding through a work zone while flipping your butt out the window, cash in your 401k.

Drunk shoppers will like the new proposal that would allow advertising booze discounts. As added comfort, if you’re injured while consuming your cheap drink special, another bill would require hospitals to list prices for 140 of the most common procedures.

In a nod to Moses, one bill will modify the Sixth Commandment, allowing the use of deadly force by anybody occupying private property with the permission of the owner. Not only that, another bill goes one step further: Even though you post your premises as off limits to concealed firearms, you don’t get immunity from civil lawsuits. In a semi-related matter, the If At First You Don’t Succeed Law is a second try to deny hunting privileges for up to 10 years for any hunter who kills another person.

But by God, we’re gonna make prison inmates pay 50 cents per visit for on-site nonemergency medical treatment from prison medical staff. Now that’s affordable health care.

In a move that will have wild turkeys gobbling with relief, one bill wants to name the white-tailed deer theofficial game animal of the state.

Other eye-opening NO-posals this legislative session:

Grain, Grain, GMO Away! Calls for a label on all food products sold in Missouri that contain genetically modified products.

The “Achy Breaky Heart” law will require licenses for music therapists.

The Chef’s Surprise law stops the state from denying the processing of any species of livestock meat.

The Cancel Candid Camera bill outlaws automated traffic enforcement systems. No more worrying about touching up your makeup before running that red light.

You CAN Take the Country Outta Missouri. A couple of proposals would stop the state from enforcing any federal law unless approved by the General Assembly.

The Bingo Bunko Squad law would require anybody running a bingo game for a service organization be a member of that organization for six months.

The Sun Damage Is Good bill stops homeowners’ associations from prohibiting the installation of those ugly solar panels.

The Turn Missouri Into a Cesspool law wants to repeal the conservation sales and use tax.

Finally, one legislator wants to lower the voting age to 16. Another wants to legalize pot for adults.

This legislative circus will be fun to watch. Pass the popcorn.